The finale of Season 6 of Game of Thrones ended with dragons in the air, ships at sea, a fearless leader on a journey, and, more likely than not, a big, goofy smile on your stupid face. Daenerys and her posse sailing west capped off the episode with a giddy moment, one that made me applaud in the direction of my screen like a senior citizen clapping for the pilot when the plane lands. For the first time, it felt like Game of Thrones might end with a big group hug.
Typically, in the immediate aftermath of a new episode, I feel a sense of doom. It's a good type of doom, like the emotional rush you experience as you get thrown off an inner tube pulled by a speedboat. It's a feeling I've gotten used to over the years and even started to enjoy and cultivate; Sundays are for leisure, reflection, and controlled blasts of nihilism. The psychological distress the show inflicts can be soothing, like a big budget ASMR video for masochists.
While this season's turn toward the light confused me, given how we've been conditioned by author George R.R. Martin and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to believe there's no such thing as a happy ending, the finale -- with its rousing speech from a small child, tender character moments between a queen and her advisor, surprising food-based vengeance, and sweeping final sequence -- suggested a path that I wouldn't have expected a year ago: that the ending to Game of Thrones might not be bleak as hell. It might even be happy.